"à Moscou on se croit à la campagne"

 'In Moscow one feels as if one were in the country.'

Moscow was the capital of Russia from the late fifteenth century until 1703, when Peter the Great moved his court to the newly-constructed St Petersburg. Even after it fell from power, as the historical capital Moscow always held a special place in Russian hearts. Whereas St Petersburg was designed to be a modern, Western city (Peter's "window on Europe") Moscow was always seen as more traditionally Russian, the spiritual heart of the country. Tolstoy much preferred Moscow to St Petersburg. His most sympathetic characters, such as the Rostovs, all feel more at home there. Moscow is traditionally portrayed as having a more relaxed, rural, informal atmosphere than formal, urban St Petersburg.

In 1918, under the Bolsheviks, Moscow became the capital of Russia again.